My brother was arrested for minor possession in November. He was being stupid, in his car smoking before school with his friend and girlfriend. He was resistant to the police officers, he says they cuffed him when they had no legal right, and he got off with probation and community service. This would have been case closed, and I wouldn’t have cared, but he refuses to go to the state mandated rehabilitation therapy because “it’s only weed” and he doesn’t want to deal with the volunteer work. His drug tests convinced him to drinking, because they don’t test that, and he’s still in high school. All in all, there’s a lot of mixed feelings.
I experimented when I was in high school. My first relationship was spent in a smoky room, window cracked and bad anime playing in the back ground. My brother, we’ve learned, has an addictive personality. While I was always told marijuana doesn’t cause a physical addiction, it’s a mental one for my brother. Now that he’s not using it and drinking, he’s violent, rude and abrasive. He threatened to have his friends hurt me once because I mentioned that he was violent toward his girlfriend. My mother is going to therapy right now, but there have been a few things I’ve mentioned to her that she says her group friends think is good advice. If you’re struggling with how to deal with an addiction in your family, hopefully these things I’ve learned can help you.
My mom likes to say “Detach With Love,” but I know I’m not capable of that right now. Instead, I’m willing to be a solid support for if he seeks help, but I will not provide him money. I will not drive him to get anything, even if it’s a sandwich from Quickchek. I cannot allow his abuse and hurtful words to be triggers for my panic disorder, and I do not feel like the bad sister my family thinks of me as for this. This is about self preservation, and if you have someone as shitty, know that you are important. Detach, and if you can’t love right away, let it come after.
2. Everything said is going to be a lie.
In one of the many attempts to get him to get clean, my mother turned his phone off. The rules to get it back included making a rehab appointment. He made up the name of a man he spoke to, an appointment for his therapy, even a location just to have it turned back on. He’s taken money from me, sold countless objects to get money, and told us all different directions so we wouldn’t come looking for him. He’s told me that he supports my bisexuality and my best friend’s transgender identity, but we both know that the moment he tries to protect me, my brother will throw trans-phobic slurs in his face to gain an upper hand. If you don’t expect the truth and it happens, then so be it. But if you assume he’s lying from the start, then you can keep yourself at a healthier place longer.
3. Take the good times for what they are.
The holidays that they’re there, the days they’re not high and they’re nice to you and seem to genuinely love you, hold on to it. Don’t blame yourself for their changes, because this is their doing. You are strong and beautiful and you deserve all those good moments packaged together with a bow when you’re doubting yourself.
4. Take a deep breath.
More times than I can count, people in my family have tried to create a sense of urgency around things to manipulate me. If someone is freaking out and they aren’t bleeding or in serious pain, take a deep breath. Tell them you’re going to the bathroom, or just tell them you need a moment to think. It helps you make a rational decision and it’s the best way I’ve found to avoid getting caught up in their words and, say, sitting outside a drug dealers house in your shitty car with no heat in January because he NEEDED to go. Not speaking from experience or anything cough cough.
Unfortunately, I’m not really a licensed addiction counselor. BUT, I do have some resources that I can pass along to anyone who needs them. I can’t vouch for every meeting out there, but the links below to my knowledge have generally a religion-free way of looking at things. Know you’re amazing, and whomever is making this sort of relationship for you isn’t going to define you.
- Al-Anon– This is the meetings my mother goes to, and she says they’re good. They also have one specifically for teenagers, which can be great so you’re not talked down to if you’re younger.
- Adult Children of Alcoholics– Unfortunately this one uses a twelve step program, which uses religious related terms.
- Loving an Adult Child of an Alcoholic by Douglas and Deborah Bey– I’ve been told this book can be patronizing, but I’ve also been told it’s a life saver for some people, so mileage may vary!